I hope you are able to read this e-mail. I notice from your book and website that you enjoy correspondence from fans. I think you will find my story interesting. I also wanted to extend my appreciation and respect for your work.
I was raised in a family devoutly Christian on both sides. My parents, as well as my extended family, are great people and I love them dearly. But they raised me as a “Christian child,” offering no discussion of the possibility that God does not exist. As I child I was led to believe that creationism, the death and resurrection and the virgin birth were simply facts of life. I accepted this, as any child would (one of my favorite points of “The God Delusion,” it struck a very personal note with me). Through my teen years I believed that humans were placed on this plant by God, and that we should all try to live according to his will. I looked with contempt upon issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and promiscuity. I felt I was living the way my creator wanted me to.
As I matured, however, I began to have doubts. These started with a realization that the teaching of the church seemed to be discriminatory and out-dated. Then I began to question whether or not God even exists. This was a torturous time for me. I was raised in a family and society that stigmatized non-belief. The word “atheist” was a taboo connotation of evil. I briefly believed that I was in fact what I had always been told atheists were – a misguided soul with a weak sense of faith.
But, after all, you can’t help what you believe. I soon realized that my sense of logic simply would not allow me to believe in God. There was no use torturing myself trying to fight this fact. So, I embraced it. I read up on atheism (from a non-Chrsitian point of view), secular humanism, skepticism, and, of course, evolution. WOW! This was the stuff for me. Everything suddenly clicked. Of course there is no God! And, better than that, who needs one?! I turned my doubts and misgivings into a new philosophy and lifestyle. I now embrace logic and reason, science, and humanism. I have learned that I don’t need God to give my life purpose. The purpose of life is to live it to the fullest, to make others and yourself as happy as possible. At the same time I realized the erroneous ways of Christianity. You know these better than I, so I will not recite them back to you.
The point is that since I decided to embrace atheism and skepticism I am a much happier person. I can now enjoy life free of the guilt of sin and fear of eternal damnation. I can now appreciate the spectaular things of nature. Theists like to say that natural beauty strengthens their religious beliefs, but to me it is much less satisfying to think that such beauty exits merely because someone created it, not because of the magnificence of science and evolution.
Atheism and humanism are who I am. I am happy now because I am not trying to be someone I’m not. In my heart of hearts I like to believe that the teenager who looked down on gay couples and women who had abortions was little more than a misguided youth who had not yet realized his true beliefs. Today I am proud to be an outspoken proponent of equality. It feels good because I know it’s what is right.
I am currently entering my senior year of college. I am applying to many of the top U.S. law schools, and plan to use my career to protect the civil rights of others. This has become my passion and my career. I know that I have found what I am going to be great at and what will make me t happy. I am incredibly grateful for this, as many people never find such a field. I would never have found mine without my conversion.
I was an atheist before reading your book, “The God Delusion.” That certainly did not lessen the profound impact it has had on me. Before reading your book I was the type of atheist who said “I don’t believe in things I have no evidence of. You can’t prove there is a God, so HA!” While this is certainly a difficult argument to counter, in spite of its simplicity, your book has elevated me to the next intellectual level of atheism. I am now able to say precisely why religious beliefs are flawed, cite evidence against God’s existence, and give explanations as to why atheism is actually quite the opposite of someone simply losing their faith or falling into Satan’s grasp. Your pinpoint logic, flawless acknowledgment and response, and impeccable historical and scientific knowledge make the book an unbeatable weapon.
You have shown me there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of in atheism – it is actually something to be proud of. Today I am happy to call myself a proud atheist.
Thank you and keep up the good work.
Dan Hido Erie, PA